The Incredible Life of Marilyn Monroe

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“I want to grow old without face-lifts… I want to have the courage to be loyal to the face I have made. Sometimes I think it would be easier to avoid old age, to die young, but then you would never complete your whole life, would you? You would never wholly know yourself.” (Monroe) Although this statement didn’t come true, Marilyn Monroe had a memorable life filled with many ups and downs. Who would think that such a successful young woman had such an unstable life? On June 1, 1926 a baby girl was born to Gladys Mortensen at 9:30 a.m. in Los Angeles, California. No one is sure who her father is because her mother was with many men at the time she got pregnant, but believe it was either Martin Edward Mortensen or Charles Gifford. Her birth name was either Norma Jeane Baker or Norma Jeane Mortensen; know to us as Marilyn Monroe. She has two older half-siblings on her mothers side that she has never met. Almost immediately after giving birth, Gladys Mortensen brought Norma to live with Ida and Albert Bolender, who raised her until she was seven years old. It isn’t clear why Gladys had someone else raise her little girl, but being a single mother working in the Great Depression wasn’t easy. Others believe she simply didn’t have the interest or commitment to raise a child. In 1933, after Norma’s 7th birthday, her mother took her back from foster care and decided that she would try raising her on her own. They never had a stable place to live and Norma wasn’t used to the rowdiness and all the drinking in her new home. Several months later Gladys began to be very depressed and avoid all the people around her. She was unable to deal with her life and entered a rest home and then the hospital. The rest of Norma’s life would now be filled with chaos since she didn’t have anywhere to go besides foster homes. In 1935, when Norma was nine her mother was declared legally insane. Grace McKee, Gladys’ best friend; applied to be Norma’s legal guardian. While waiting for the court to appoint a new guardian, she was sent to live in the Los Angeles Orphans Home until she was eleven. In 1937, McKee and Ervin “Doc” Goddard married and became Norma’s guardian. After six months with “Aunt Grace” and family, she was sent to live with distant relatives in Compton. This was probably due to the speculations that Goddard may have attempted to molest her. “At first I was waking up in the morning at the Goddards’ and thinking I was still at the orphanage. Then, before I could get used to them I was with another aunt and uncle, waking up and thinking I was still at the Goddards.” (Monroe 25) At age twelve she returned to Los Angeles and went to live with Grace (McKee) Goddard’s aunt, 58-year-old Ana Lower. “She was the first person in the world I ever really loved…She was the only one who loved and understood me.” (Monroe 26) At the end of her ninth grade Lower had developed health problems forcing Norma to go back and live with the Goddards. During her first year of high school, Doc Goddard was being transferred to West Virginia and the family was moving too. They decided it would be best to leave Norma, and since Aunt Ana’s health had improved she would move back in with her. She never returned to school after beginning the second semester. In 1941 Norma became good friends with Jim Dougherty, her neighbor. They decided to begin dating even though he was five years older. After being together for six months and Norma finally reaching the legal age to marry (sixteen in the state of California at that time), they wed on June 19, 1942. “Our marriage may have been in some place short of heaven, like in the minds of two older ladies, but there was no pretense in how Norma Jeane and I felt about each other once we’d formed that partnership.” (Dougherty 28) She spent the first year of their marriage as a housewife, and then Jim joined the Merchant Marines so they moved to Catalina Island where he was stationed. In 1944, Jim was sent to the South Pacific...
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